NORFOLK, Va. – After scoring seven unearned runs off an Old Dominion error in the second, the Rutgers baseball team used an error and a wild pitch in the ninth to break a 9-9 tie and leave Bud Metheny Complex with a 10-9 victory in the series opener between the Scarlet Knights (2-5) and Monarchs (3-6) Friday afternoon.
Rutgers started off hot offensively with single runs in the first and third sandwiched around a seven-run second inning.
Back-to-back doubles from sophomores Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.) and Pat Biserta (Point Pleasant, N.J.) to lead off the game produced the Scarlet Knights’ first run.
Old Dominion answered with three hits and used a Rutgers error to plate a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to capture the advantage. The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as RU loaded the bases with two outs in the second and an ODU error at second base proved costly.
Junior Dan Betteridge’s (Sewell, N.J.) ball to second base with the bases loaded was misplayed, allowing a run to score on the play and RU to re-load the bases. Sophomore Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) made the Monarchs pay with a three-run triple to the gap in left center field, but Rutgers wasn’t done in the frame. Junior Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) followed a Luis Feliz (New Brunswick, N.J.) single with two-run triple to the same left-center gap to give the Scarlet Knights seven runs off the error in the inning. They totaled six hits and batted around in the frame, chasing Old Dominion starter Chris Boggs out of the game after just 1.2 innings.
Lang and Biserta were at it again in the third when the leadoff hitter recorded his second double in as many at-bats and Biserta got him home with a single to right field. ODU responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning to make it 9-3.
The Monarchs threatened to score a run in the fourth with a man on third and two outs but Rutgers starter Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) shut the door with an inning-ending strikeout.
ODU’s Donnie Corsner hit a two-out, two-run home run to center field in the fifth to cut into the Scarlet Knights’ lead and make it 9-5.
RU loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth but could not produce a run after a pair of strikeouts from ODU reliever Brady Burchill and a play at the plate.
Gaynor, who struck out three and allowed five runs in five innings of work, handed the ball over to reliever Willie Beard (Spotswood, N.J.) to start the sixth. After a 1-2-3 sixth, Beard let up just one hit in the seventh and finished off a second scoreless inning when RU catcher Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) gunned down the base stealer at second base.
Beard, however, gave up hits to his first three batters in the eighth as the Monarchs pushed a run across without recording an out. Veteran reliever Kevin Lillis (Fair Haven, N.J.) came in and retired the first batter he faced. However, ODU’s Josh Wright tied the game up with one swing of the bat, lifting a ball over the left-field fence for a three-run home run. The Scarlet Knights prevented any further damage with a Lillis strikeout and a second Hernandez gun down on a stolen base attempt at second base.
With the score tied at 9-9 in the final frame, RU got a man in scoring position with a two-out double from Betteridge. On the next play, a fielding error by the first baseman allowed Matthews to reach base safely and Betteridge to advance to third. Rutgers continued to capitalize on ODU mistakes, scoring the game-winning run on a wild pitch as Betteridge crossed home on the errant throw.
Rutgers closer Ryan Beard (Point Pleasant, N.J.) shut the door on the Monarchs in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Lillis (1-1) picked up the win with an inning of relief, while Old Dominion’s Cory Toth (1-2), who worked the ninth, was saddled with the loss.
Rutgers got production from nearly its entire lineup as the first eight hitters recorded at least one hit and the No. 1 and No. 2 hitters (Lang and Biserta) finished the game three hits apiece.
Rutgers and Old Dominion will continue the series with a 1:00 p.m. game Saturday. Junior righty Dennis Hill (Hillsdale, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against freshman righty Brett Harris for the Monarchs.